Tag Archives: Endangered Species List

Grizzly delisting plan gets new public comment review

Grizzly bear sow with three cubs - NPS photo
Grizzly bear sow with three cubs – NPS photo

Wildlife managers continue to work on a plan to remove grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. Meanwhile, there’s evidence of contact between the two main grizzly population centers . . .

Federal plans to delist the grizzly bear from Endangered Species Act protection will get a second round of public comment.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Tuesday announcement follows its release of a peer-review report generally approving its management plan for allowing state management of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Coincidentally, it also arrives on the heels of reports that Yellowstone grizzlies may be making contact with their fellows in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem north of Missoula.

Montana, Idaho and Wyoming state wildlife managers have all proposed plans for both protecting and hunting Yellowstone grizzly bear populations, assuming they leave federal management. Northern grizzlies are considered a separate population, although they are undergoing a similar delisting process that isn’t as far along as the Yellowstone one.

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Tribes hold ‘Prayer for the Great Bear’ ceremony

Grizzly Bear - Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash
Grizzly Bear – Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Representatives of several tribes held a gathering in Glacier Park to speak out in favor of retaining grizzly bear protections . . .

As federal wildlife managers prepare to move grizzly bears off the Endangered Species List in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, opposition to delisting the iconic — and to many, sacred — animal has continued.

Led by several tribal nations, a crowd of roughly 100 people met at the eastern gateway of Glacier National Park on Friday for a “Prayer for the Great Bear” ceremony.

David Bearshield of the Cheyenne Nation sang a prayer in his native language with the shore of St. Mary’s Lake as the backdrop.

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Restoring the ghost forests

Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 - W. K. Walker
Whitebark Pine Closeup, 2016 – W. K. Walker

The Flathead Beacon has an interesting story about the attempt to restore the whitebark pine forests . . .

To the uninitiated, the stark beauty of a whitebark pine is revealed only after the tree has died and shed its needles, leaving behind a vertical boneyard of wind-twisted limbs that writhes in the high-alpine sky like a ghostly apparition.

At the height of vitality, however, the whitebark pine is only distinct from other verdant stands of conifers to the trained eye despite the network of wildlife they sustain.

Foresters and researchers who understand the critical ecological importance of the keystone species are striving to reanimate these ghost forests, and may be closing in on a strategy to ensure their future survival, as well as that of the many wildlife species who depend on its nutrient-dense cones.

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Black-footed ferrets return home

Black-footed ferret
Black-footed ferret

Here’s more news regarding the ongoing effort to restore the black-footed ferret population . . .

A nocturnal species of weasel with a robber-mask-like marking across its eyes has returned to the remote ranchlands of western Wyoming where the critter almost went extinct more than 30 years ago.

Wildlife officials on Tuesday released 35 black-footed ferrets on two ranches near Meeteetse, a tiny cattle ranching community 50 miles east of Yellowstone National Park. Black-footed ferrets, generally solitary animals, were let loose individually over a wide area.

Groups of ferret releasers fanned out over prairie dog colonies covering several thousand acres of the Lazy BV and Pitchfork ranches. Black-footed ferrets co-exist with prairie dogs, living in their burrows and preying on them.

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Lawsuit challenges Wyoming grizzly delisting plan

Grizzly Bear - courtesy NPS
Grizzly Bear – courtesy NPS

Yet another challenge to Wyoming’s grizzly delisting plans . . .

Groups are challenging the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission over its recently adopted grizzly bear management rules.

The Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity and Jackson, Wyoming-based filmmaker James Laybourn filed a lawsuit against the commission Friday in state court in Cheyenne.

The lawsuit claims the commission failed to follow public notice and comment requirements before adopting grizzly management rules earlier this year.

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Park Service wants grizzly hunting ban in corridor between Yellowstone, Grand Teton

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway location
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway location

This seems quite sensible, but will no doubt trigger considerable head-butting. (Kudos to Bill Fordyce for spotting this.) . . .

The National Park Service said Tuesday there should be no hunting of grizzly bears in the 24,000-acre John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The parkway should be “identified” as a national park unit where grizzly hunting is prohibited, Park Service regional director Sue Masica said in a memo to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The parkway is owned and managed by the Park Service, but hunting is allowed. Additionally, any hunting program in the ecosystem should limit the likelihood that “well-known or transboundary bears will be harvested,” Masica wrote.

Her comments were in response to a proposed Fish and Wildlife Service plan to remove federal protection from the Yellowstone grizzly. That delisting action is expected to be completed by the end of this year and would open the door for Wyoming, Idaho and Montana to institute hunts. The deadline for submitting comments on the delisting plan was Tuesday.

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A lightning rod for grizzly recovery

Chris Servheen
Chris Servheen

Over at the Flathead Beacon, Dillon Tabish posted a long, outstanding article on Chris Servheen, who just retired after 35 years as the fed’s first grizzly bear recovery coordinator. Recommended reading . . .

Last week, inside his office on the University of Montana campus, Chris Servheen wrapped up his 35-year career as the federal government’s first and only grizzly bear recovery coordinator.

The occasion on April 29 passed without fanfare as the 65-year-old worked quietly and alone, the final minutes winding down on a career as turbulent as it was influential.

As the foremost person tasked with saving a species as iconic as the grizzly bear, which teetered on the brink of extinction only 50 years ago, Servheen has been at the center of controversy and scrutiny for much of the last four decades.

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Grizzlies potentially at risk on 2 million acres after delisting

Grizzly on ranch east of Yellowstone - Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Grizzly on ranch east of Yellowstone – Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Here’s a pretty good discussion of the issues grizzly bears could face in parts of Wyoming after delisting goes into effect. Kudos to Bill Fordyce for spotting this one . . .

Wyoming will “discourage” grizzly bears — likely by hunting — from thousands of square miles they currently occupy in the Yellowstone ecosystem, state officials said recently while describing pending plans.

Grizzly bears can’t easily live without conflict in 3,236 square miles they now occupy on the fringes of the Yellowstone ecosystem, Wyoming wildlife authorities say, and the federal government agrees. Consequently, grizzlies now living on some of the ecosystem edges won’t be counted in official censuses and will be moved off, killed or hunted, sometimes even before they conflict with human activities, pending state and federal plans say.

Nevertheless, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes the Yellowstone-area grizzly from the list of threatened species — a process that could be completed by the end of this year — the agency will continue to monitor grizzly populations in the core of the ecosystem. Area managers will strive for a population of 674 bears in the 19,270 square-mile central zone known as Demographic Monitoring Area. If that population is well distributed and fecund with breeding females, there’s enough habitat and regulations to make federal wildlife managers confident grizzlies will persist.

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The New West: Democracy falters In delisting of Greater Yellowstone bears?

Grizzly Bear - Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash
Grizzly Bear – Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Here’s a strong editorial by Todd Wilkinson, Environmental Columnist for Explore Big Sky, making the case for disallowing trophy hunting of grizzly bears, even after they are delisted . . .

Nowhere in the legal framework of the federal Endangered Species Act does it mandate that animals removed from federal protection be subjected to trophy sport hunting.

America spent millions of dollars reversing the downward spiral of bald eagles. Indeed, someone today could argue that the majestic white-crowned raptors would be fun to shoot and look stunningly beautiful as dead stuffed prizes of avian taxidermy.

Yet when the great birds were finally declared biologically recovered in 2007, society didn’t celebrate by turning around and initiating sport seasons on eagles, selling licenses to generate revenue for the coffers of state wildlife agencies. Why not?

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